In his annual “State of the World” address to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, Pope Francis expressed deep concern over a phenomenon he believes poses a growing threat: “cancel culture,” the practice of more increasingly widespread of silencing individuals, institutions and even, in the pope’s estimation, entire cultures that are deemed to hold incorrect or inconvenient opinions or values.
The term “cancel culture” is widely understood to mean the increasingly successful attempt to censor opinions – and to shame and shun those who express them – that do not conform to “politically correct” principles. of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and its narrowly associated cultural manifestation, “Revealism”. “Diversity, equity and inclusion” mandates are an integral part of the agenda and, critics say, end up discriminating against members of groups who have not been identified as oppressed or underrepresented.
Canadian scholar and author Jordan Peterson wrote in a national post column last month that those mandates include “appalling ideology” and were the main reason he resigned as a full professor at the University of Toronto. Additionally, Frances Widdowson was fired from her post as political science professor at Mount Royal University (Calgary) late last year after being a persistent critic of equity mandates and assertiveness. that Canada’s former treatment of its native residents amounted to an attempt at cultural genocide. . And as columnist Mark Milke observed in the national review, “Widdowson and Peterson are just the most prominent academic victims of waking madness in Canada. They are unlikely to be the last.
The Pope joins the growing number of people who fear that the culture’s relativistic and amoral philosophical underpinnings are the antithesis of Catholic teaching. The pope argues that Catholic schools and universities are a key battleground in which the war against cancel culture must be fought and won if Christianity is to thrive.
It’s a fight that leaders of Vancouver-area Catholic colleges—Catholic Pacific College in Langley and Corpus Christi-St. Mark’s College in Vancouver — say they are deeply committed.
Andrew Kaethler, academic dean and assistant professor of theology at Catholic Pacific College, said an important way he fulfills this important responsibility is to introduce his students to “a tradition in which it is recognized that there is a good, there is a truth”. , that there is truth in reality, that we can meet it and that the logos (universal divine reason) that underlies all reality — that of our own logos and everyone – interconnects with The Logos, and therefore sees reality for what it is.
Kaethler doesn’t mean he wants college graduates to go out into the world “wiggling their fingers and saying, ‘wrong, wrong, wrong.’ “There is a time and a place to deny,” he said.
“But our students are better off if they are equipped to respond by offering a counter-story, the story of the true, the good and the beautiful – that is, the gospel.”
On the specific question of CRT, “We want to teach our students to relate to the truths that lie in critical race theory – the desire to fight racism and to have empathy for those who struggle – but then to provide a much prettier answer than CRT, one that, unlike CRT, does not perpetuate the problem it seeks to overcome,” he said.
Corpus Christi-St. Mark’s new president and principal, Dr. Gerry Turcotte, agreed that the search for truth is central to the mission of a Catholic college. Turcotte, a Register columnist and currently president of St. Mary’s University in Calgary, said that “the cause of truth is that which enables and encourages, especially in Catholic universities, to ask questions about all the most difficult problems”. However, this does not mean that dissenting or dissenting voices should not be heard.
“We need to create a space for dialogue, where we can meet and encounter the truth,” explains Turcotte. “That’s probably the hardest thing to do. And I think it’s always been the mission of Catholic universities to pursue that.
“That’s why the Catholic Church created the very first universities in the first place, to create a space where difficult questions could be asked, and it will always be uncomfortable, because of the wide range of issues, and that’s something something you have to negotiate in the university system.
Turcotte said he is dedicated to community betterment and social justice.
“And I strongly believe that Catholic education can heal a lot of the wounds that our planet is going through right now,” he said.
Pope Francis has, in several past speeches, used the term “ideological colonization” to describe the trampling of Indigenous cultures and institutions by the Western world. He referred to this phenomenon again in his January speech to diplomats representing 183 countries, but also broadened his criticism to include the culture of cancelation.
Pope Francis has warned that political, legal and cultural agendas “are increasingly dictated by a mindset that rejects the natural foundations of humanity and the cultural roots that constitute the identity of many peoples.”
Peter Nation, a retired St. Thomas Aquinas Regional High School teacher, is the founder of Catholic Voices Canada. He believes that the intent of woke ideology and cultural nullification “is to bring down the Judeo-Christian tradition, including specifically the family and moral law, and is therefore a threat to civilization. Western as a whole.
As an antidote, Catholic Voices launched its educational series “Awake from Woke” last April. The virtual sessions show that the woke ideology is based on beliefs and assumptions that are the antithesis of the Catholic faith. Catholic Voices has held 14 such sessions so far.